The BBC is reporting as I type that Unison is saying that morale among social workers is at an all-time low. Again. I wonder how much lower it can actually sink for this to stop being a news story. I’m still on the recovery trail and feeling a little delicate but is there honestly anything new in this story? We have had months of stories about a lack of social workers.. low social work morale..
Today, the ‘new’ information seems to pertain to a report from the NSPCC which indicates that there has been a rise in calls to its helpline. That social workers are spending up to 80% of their time on paperwork and 20% of their time with users of services.
The only way things are going to change is for those employed in the sector (and I absolutely include myself) to be more active in making the changes happen. We can write, speak and explain what we do and why we do it.
Of course, these reports focus solely on social work with children and families but the only people that can, ultimately, speak up for social workers are social workers who are employed on the front line. We have seen we can neither rely nor trust academics to do this for us as we will be judged or challenged. Politicians are happy to use social work and social workers as political football, pandering to the red-tops when they need to.
Some members of the press might be sympathetic but with their own admission, will never have the same knowledge of the system that those who practice with and alongside it have.
We have been told our training is not good enough, that we are not good enough, that we need lawyers and police officers to ‘fast-track’ into the service, that ‘good’ graduates can easily do our job if they have a one or two year conversion process and we are being attacked at all angles.
I am tired of seeing people rammed into the ground by the work-load. Social workers need to be able to speak for themselves, ourselves – rather than looking for a ‘spokesperson’. We need to push the responsibility upwards as well to our own managers and directors. We don’ feel comfortable in a situation or with a decision – that’s what management is for and is paid to be for.
I never went into this job to be loved or even respected. I don’t really care what the average ‘Daily Mail’ reader thinks of me or my profession. I find it offensive that a politician can describe MPs as ‘glorified social workers’ and mope and groan about how unappreciated the career politician is. They are NOT anything remotely connected with social workers and if they even dare to think they might be, they don’t deserve to have anything to do with public service. I wouldn’t call myself a glorified nurse if I put a plaster on my toe. They shouldn’t call themselves glorified social workers just because they place a call to a housing department on behalf of someone else.If anything they are infinitely less glorious than the majority of social workers I know.
This is as much a call-to-arms to myself as anyone else that might be reading but if we aren’t willing to take as much responsibility for our own morale, development, workload pressure and speak up to our own managers, however senior, nothing will actually change and we will be reliant on these chains of media stories about poor morale.
/rant mode off.